Ian Allinson says he knows he has to manage the squad if St Albans City's fabulous run is to continue

Michael Clark in action for St Albans City against Hungerford Town. Picture: PETER SHORT

Michael Clark was unlucky not to play against Cray Wanderers said St Albans City manager Ian Allinson. - Credit: PETER SHORT

Ian Allinson has pushed all the praise for St Albans City's incredible start onto the players but says he is mindful of not over-exerting them with more than half the season still to go.

The Saints boss was speaking after watching the unbeaten National League South leaders cruise into the last 32 of the FA Trophy with a 3-0 win over Cray Wanderers.

But even though the season started late, he says the team has been hard at it for five months already and he doesn't want this to be remembered as a season that peaked by Christmas.

He said: "The players have been outstanding. We’ve tested and pushed them and they have responded. 

"But we have been in since the middle of July and we’re now coming to the end of December so I have to be careful that I don’t go to the well too much, too early. 

"We don’t want to burn them out so we have to measure their minutes. Some of them have played a lot of minutes over the last couple of weeks. 

"We need to look at their rest and recuperation and then we can go back into the games really sharp."

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He restricted the temptation to make sweeping changes against Cray, keeping all but two of the side that beat Tonbridge Angels on Saturday to go top of the pile in the league.

And he urged those members of squad currently out in the cold to have patience.

He said: "I could have changed four or five and gave some of the squad members a game but I don’t want to undo a lot of the hard work we’ve put together. 

"If I change four or five and we end up getting beat, it sets us back a little bit. 

"In hindsight there were a few players that got a bit tired towards the end of the game so we have to be careful what we do in training on Thursday. 

"It’s been a hard couple of weeks in terms of games and minutes played and I totally understand the frustration of some of the players who didn’t play as they probably felt they would have an opportunity. 

"They have to be patient as the boys who have the shirts have done extremely well. 

"It’s a long season and the boys who haven’t got the shirts have got to be patient and when they get the opportunity, they have to grab it."

One of the two changes made against Cray was enforced, Tom Bender departing the Tonbridge game on Saturday with a shoulder injury.

The other though was a touch surprising with Michael Clark, undeniably enjoying his best spell in a City shirt, dropping to the bench with Joy Mukena coming in.

Allinson revealed that decision was indirectly down to James Kaloczi.

He said: "We always look at it as partnerships. David Diedhiou is unlucky he hasn’t taken Tom Bender’s place. 

"We looked at the partnership of Diedhiou and Kaloczi, we looked at the partnership of Clark and Kaloczi but the one that has probably played the most games together is Mukena and Kaloczi. 

"That’s why we decided that it is probably best for the team that we went with them. 

"We had Luke [Warner-Eley] who has played at left-back with Joy. 

"They are difficult decisions but Joy needed a game as he missed a couple and Tom looks like he will be out for four or five weeks, we not quite sure."

City play Sutton United on Saturday at Clarence Park in round three of the FA Trophy.